Navigating through divorce recovery may mean uninvited time on your hands. Alone last night, I decided to observe Oscar Season and curl up on the couch with a legendary winner-take-all film: the 1992 drama, Scent of a Woman (Best Movie Golden Globes, Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Oscars). Timing is everything. It was the jolt I needed to hear: Get off your derriere and take a big bite out of life – right now! Life is worth every second, no matter how bleak your divorce makes it appear.
The story, briefly: A cantankerous, depressed, blind Army Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade (Al Pacino) hires a timid 17-year-old prep student Charlie Simms (a young Chris O’Donnell) to aid in the completion of his bucket list – one more fling – an escape from the colonel’s isolated life in Boston to New York City where O’Donnell will “babysit” the colonel (Pacino) over Thanksgiving. When the list is concluded, the colonel intends to return to Boston where he’ll kill himself and end his hopeless, useless life as a blind man. O’Donnell’s experience in NYC with Pacino is hardly what he anticipates, however. The sometimes harrowing, sometimes poignant, often erotic adventures in NYC teach O’Donnell how precious life’s moments can be. Pacino’s joie de vivre is revived and his return to Boston is laden with unexpected life loving twists.
As the story goes, Charlie learns about life, Colonel Frank recaptures his spirit, but we, the audience – and especially all of us on the divorce continuum – are the real winners. Is there a better example of overcoming suicidal depression and rediscovering life again? No matter where you are in your divorce journey, this gem will awaken the zest for life that divorce can suck right out of you. You’ll giggle with joy, cry for the tragedy, and be stunned by the film’s wisdom: Life is always worth living, no matter how devastating it seems to be. Don’t throw it away.
No time to watch the entire film? Give yourself a gift and watch these two highlights from the colonel’s notorious bucket list before his proposed suicide. (Remember, the colonel is blind!):
- The Tango Scene. Watch this shy woman overcome fear to step out and dance with him.
- Test Driving The Ferrari. Gutsy, funny, scary, and, of course, illegal … a masterpiece metaphor for taking chances when you have nothing to lose.
There’s a part of Colonel Slade in all of us. It’s that dark, lonely place where we think that life as we know it is over … and it can lead some of us very close to the edge. In the end, the colonel’s Manhattan rendezvous reinvigorates him, and he begins to taste and savor life again. We can do the same.
Starting over in life can be daunting. But like Colonel Slade, we can get past that bleak place. It’s all about our inner dialogue and our determination to see life as an adventure, even when it seems more like bottomless tar pit. It can change! So can we.
Here’s my best divorce advice for you: Rent Scent of a Woman. Then, take a chance and get out of your comfort zone – even for a few minutes, like the lady in the tango. Those first brave steps are the inauguration of your new life. Every second counts!
Now, go grab some popcorn, crawl under your most comfy throw, and enjoy the show. If Colonel Slade can reclaim his life, so can we!